On Easter Sunday morning, what Mary Magdalene and the other Mary experienced when they arrived at the tomb was a great earthquake. An earthquake is something that shakes us up and reveals that what we think is most solid in life does not provide a sure footing or the stability we imagined. An earthquake is something that naturally would make us afraid. Yet an earthquake becomes the first sign of the resurrection. The coronavirus pandemic has been like an earthquake in our lives. It has shaken us up and has revealed the fragility and instability of our life as well as the instability of all the systems that we have built up. Many people are afraid. But this event that shakes us is not separated from the good news of the resurrection. In fact, it can be something that awakens us to our need for something more stable in life. It reveals, perhaps, that we’ve placed our security in something that does not stand up to the test of time. Even as practicing Catholics and believing Christians, we can take the fact of the resurrection for granted. It is for that reason, on this Easter Sunday, that we renew our baptismal promises – to remind us that this fact of the resurrection has entered our life – personally. In baptism we have died with Christ and were raised with him to a new life. Belonging to him who has victory over sin and death – who lives forever – is what gives stability and security to our lives. Letting this fact define us changes our perspective on life. It directs our thoughts and desires. St. Paul tells the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above… think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” Our life is “hidden with Christ in God”, St. Paul reminds us. So we have to seek him. Like the game of “hide and seek”, we only seek because we are certain there is someone to be found. Do we seek him?
The announcement of the resurrection, as we hear in the Gospel, is, “Do not be afraid!” What defines these women who become witnesses of the Resurrection is that even in the face of death, they seek Jesus. The promise made is that if we go where Jesus asks us to go, we will see him. He goes before us. He has walked this path before us, opening a way for us, and returning to accompany us on the journey. Jesus met these women on their way and greeted them. The invitation of Jesus is always, “come, follow me.” St. Peter, in the reading from Acts, testifies to the resurrection. He witnesses in Jesus a life not constrained by death – a humanity that is not held down by death. And this fact and that he has been chosen to see this, gives him hope. This is something he has experienced “in the flesh” with Jesus, having “ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”
Who are the people in your life that seek the Lord and witness to his resurrection in the way they live these circumstances? A friend of mine is the director of a parish outreach center that serves food and provides services for the poor. In this situation, most of her regular volunteers have to stay home. So she is left operating with just a small group of women at a time when their services are in even greater demand. What she observed is that the need to live the new life of Christ that we’ve been given is enormous and has not been held down. People, otherwise restricted by these circumstances, are finding creative ways to give and to serve. She’s found bags of groceries and packs of diapers at her front door and donation checks taped to the statue of Our Lady in her garden. People who would normally prepare meals and bring them in are ordering meals from local restaurants and having them delivered. In the midst of darkness, the life, love, and light of Christ is bursting through. It is not constrained by death. This small group of women doing the work Christ has asked them to do is seeing Christ appear before their eyes “in the flesh.” Like the women in the Gospel, they are not without a certain bit of fear yet, at the same time, they are overjoyed by the Presence they recognize. My friend said that she feels chosen by Christ and surprised by this new life in her and around her. But she also said that she and the other women need to say “yes” every day to Christ’s invitation in order to walk this path and for their life to be renewed.
My friends, as we face these challenging circumstances, may we be renewed in the grace of our baptism, seek the Lord always, and be not afraid. We belong to God, we’ve been raised with Christ, and we are on a path to eternal life. May we go where the Lord is asking us to go, because saying “yes” to his call is how we see him and experience the glory of the resurrection. Happy Easter!